Just built a new site on smugmug to better host pictures and videos. Its still a work in progress, but I am uploading a lot of still pics from the last year or so. There is also a cruising video section where you will find movies of our most recent Ala…
We’ve owned Rapport now for a year and a half, finding her to be a great cruising vessel, however when you buy a pre-owned boat you inevitably make compromises compared to your perfect desired boat. In our case there were three compromises, which I’ll discuss.
1. Rapport has a large flybridge with full headroom and our compromise here was having plastic clears as opposed to glass. Particularly facing forward, glass is a big plus especially in heavier seas when there’s a lot of spray reducing visibility. However Rapport’s clears are exceptionally good being polycarbonate which appears to retain its clarity for longer than vinyl and we’re just about to treat these with RainX-Plastic which should considerably increase visibility with rain or spray. In general we’re pretty happy with these clears and won’t consider glass as an option until it’s time to replace the clears.
2. We prefer gas cooking to electric. There’s a lot said about gas safety issues, but we’re perfectly comfortable with professionally installed lpg systems with gas detectors. The main plus with lpg is you can cook without running a generator. Rapport has electric bench top hobs and a convection microwave. It took a while to get used to the convection microwaveand while Di says she would still prefer a “proper oven” we find it adequate, supplemented by an electric frying pan. To avoidhavingto start the generator just to make a morning cup of tea or coffee we bought a small bench top single hob “Gasmate” stove. This uses disposable lpg bottles which are cheap and last one or two days. We also use this for boiling vegetables etc. There’s no problem using electric cooking while the main engines are running and charging the batteries. Using the generator for cooking in the evening is also not a problem as we often need to run it to charge our house battery bank, particularly if we haven’t run the main engines that day. In the summer most of our cooking is on a lpg BBQ and we really enjoy using that. So in conclusion we’ve adapted and will continue with the present system.
3. As you will have read in our last posting we really enjoy using our dinghy and ideally wanted a 3m rigid-hulled inflatable with a 15hp 4-stroke outboard, lifted on board by crane. Rapport came with an old TakaCat inflatable that after a few weeks we literally threw away as it had so many air leaks. In any case its 6hp Mercury outboard was too heavy for us to comfortably lift on and off the dinghy.
As Rapport came without a crane and we needed something in a hurry that the two of us could lift onto the foredeck cradle we bought a very lightweight (33kg) Aquapro SLR 2.6m rigid-hulled inflatable with a Honda 2.5hp air cooled outboard. We had one of these Hondas in the Med and found it to be super – very reliable and nearly always starting first pull. This package has worked well but was always a temporary solution. We’re now going to sell the Aquapro/Honda and upgrade to an approx 3m rigid hulled inflatable with a 15hp 4-stroke outboard. This will give us planing ability with at least two adults, more room when we have often have four adults aboard, longer range and better rough water capability. Not to mention much more fun! Bear in mind that on a typical coastal cruiser your inflatable is also your life raft in a worst case scenario. In order to lift this dinghyaboard Rapport we’ll need to install an electric crane and we’re researching whether we can store the dinghy on a new rack to be built behind the flybridge (preferred option) or on the existing foredeck rack. Also researching which inflatable to buy and whether to fit a Honda, Suzuki, Mercury or Yamaha outboard – watch this space.
ENJOY YOUR WINTER CRUISING
In many European and North American boating locations Autumn is time to winteriseyour boat and leave it until Spring, however in Auckland there’s no reason not to swap shorts and tee-shirts for jeans and sweatshirts and enjoy most of what cruising has to offer throughoutourwinter.
Average weather statistics willsurprise you. For example Auckland’s average daytime winter temperature is 14-15dC while bycomparison popular cruising destination Scotland has an averagesummertemperature of only 15-17dC. Also surprisingly, on average January is Auckland’s windiest month while the least windy are March and May throughAugust. In Auckland showers are more prevalent than constant rain and the weather out among the Gulf islands is invariably sunnier than on the mainland. For example we often look back from Waiheke basking in the sunshine to see the mainland shrouded by cloud.
Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous boating area where the Hauraki Gulf’sMahurangi Harbour and Kawau Bay to the north-west, Great Barrier Island to the north-east and the string of islands from Rangitoto to Ponui in the south offer safe shelter in most weather conditions all year round.
Cruising in winter offersless crowded anchorages, good fishing and also means using your boat regularly, thereby reducing the chances of unexpected problems. I often see owners starting their diesel engines at the marina during winter, however engineers tell me there’s no substitute for using your boat regularly and working your engines under load at normal operating temperature, which can’t be achieved in the marina. In fact I’ve been told that starting your engines without loading them can do more harm than good.
The winter nights are of course longer from around 1800 to 0700 hours. We find keeping warm not an issue with heat from the galley, an electric fan heater powered from our generator and a portable gas heater. Other systems such as diesel heaters are also available. Ensure adequate ventilation when using gas heaters to avoid dangerous build ups of carbon monoxide.
We had planned a ten day family cruise for late May and as departure approacheswe watch theforecast with some consternation. The approaching weather system isso unusual that the media describesit as a “weather bomb,” caused by a ridge of high pressure in the eastern Tasman Sea combining with a deep low pressure trough north-eastof the North Island to cause south-easterly winds in excess of 40 knots and exceptionally high swells in excess of four metres. A gale warning is issued forthe Hauraki Gulf, but only a strong wind advisory forthe Waitemata harbour, so we modifyour plans to avoid the outer Gulf and enjoy the Waiheke area.
We leave on a Friday afternoon in a light south-easterly breeze and cruise to Owhanaki Bay on Waiheke’s north-west-coast. Here is perfect for the forecast strong south-east winds and we find only a handful of boats anchored here providing us with plenty of all-important swinging room. We’re cautious about this as having anchored many nights over the years in adverse conditions our only problems have ever been caused by other anchored vessels coming adrift and hitting us. The rocks either side of the bay’s entrance are awash with a larger than normal swell, but where we’re anchored there’s just a gentle lift. With the wind predicted to increase to 25 knots we elect to stay here for the next couple of days finding it perfectly comfortable and secure.
ByTuesday it’s a beautiful sunny day, albeit a bit colder as the wind increases and temporarily shifts a bit to the south. We anchor off Oneroa Bay, slightly further east, where our family members join us having arrived by ferry at Matiatia. We want to cruise east to the Waiheke Channel and it’s decision time. Do we take the route to the north of Waiheke enjoying the sheltered northern coast, but risking heavy south-east seas when we turn south into the Firth of Thames, or do we cruise east along the Tamaki Strait on thesouthern side of Waiheke expecting a large wind-driven chop for most of the way but no heavy seas? We elect the latter and cruise south down the west coast of Waiheke in tranquillity before turning east at Park Point into the full brunt of a steady 35 knot south-easterly gusting into the 40s. Although the wind-driven chop is about two metres high it’s directly on our bow so Rapport’s 16 metre hull handles the conditions well at about 8 knots with plenty of spray but little discomfort and with conditions gradually improvingas we approach the Waiheke Channel. Normally with a south-east wind we’d anchor in Ponui Island’s Chamberlin’s Bay, but with the exceptionally strong winds we find residual swell from the Firth of Thames so anchor slightly further to the east in the more sheltered Te Kawau Bay.
During the next few daysthe south-easterly isfar too strong to venture out into our favoured fishing areas of the Firth so we seek out new fishing spots in the more sheltered waters ofthe Waiheke Channel finding two locationsthat provide plenty of action.
Faced with the “weather bomb” it would have been all too easy to cancel our cruise, but we enjoy ten great days away confirming that winter cruising even in poor weather can be enjoyed.
Petersburg is located at the north end of the Wrangell Narrows. This 21 mile narrow passage connects Sumner Strait on the south end to Frederick Sound on the north end. It is a busy waterway with almost all South East Alaska traffic passing thru these narrows. We have spent most of our cruising time exploring […]
Spirit Log June 1-5, 2021
Departing Saook Bay after a disappointing encounter with crabs, we continued our voyage through Peril Strait and into Hoonah Sound, going up South Arm to Douglass Bay. Unlike the day before, the winds were light and the seas flat, just a one knot adverse current from the ebb tide.
Anchoring in 55 feet of water in the otherwise empty bay we watched a brown bear on the beach and set crab pots. After setting the crab pots, we launched the inflatable and the tender. Prawning is still closed in this area of Hoonah Inlet so the prawn pots stayed on board. Late in the afternoon, our crab pots yielded a disappointing small number of crabs, so Harry and Teri placed them in different locations to see if we could improve our catch.
June 2, 2021
Our planned departure from Douglass Bay was 0830 in order to hit low slack water at Sergius Narrows. That meant we were up and in the inflatable tender and Teri’s Mink at 0630 to pull the crab traps. The crab traps yielded our limit of nice Dungeness crabs. We actually did not make the 0830 departure, leaving at 0850, but with the help of the ebb current in Peril Strait we still made it through Sergius Narrows before the current reversed to flood.
Heading out into Salisbury Sound, it was surprisingly calm given the weather report. The short run to Kalinin Bay on Kruzof Island took only 30 minutes and we entered to find only one boat anchored, and it left after several hours, leaving Spirit the only occupant of the bay.
Harry and Teri took the Mink to the shark hole, but were unsuccessful catching anything. Patrick and Miriam cooked, picked and vacuum sealed their crab except retaining enough to make crab cakes the next day. We all relaxed on-board after fishing and enjoyed Spot Prawn Piccata with wild rice prepared by Teri for dinner before watching a movie.
June 3, 2021
At 0300 the anchor alarm went off, waking us all up. The wind had shifted, gusting to 35 knots and we were the opposite direction from when we had anchored and set the alarm. After a few minutes it was clear the anchor was still well set and we all went back to sleep.
The rain continued all night.
Today is a fishing (Harry and Teri) and rest day (Patrick and Miriam). We continue to be the only boat anchored in Kalinin Bay, although three double kayaks spent the night camping on the beach and then hiked over to Sea Lion Cove on the west side of Kruzof Island. Patrick prepared crab cakes which mostly went into the freezer for later appetizers.
June 4, 2021
After a relaxed morning on board, we pulled the anchor from the mud in Kalinin Bay, timing our departure in between winds gusts to 31 knots. Heading out into Salisbury Sound we looked at the shark hole, where 7 boats were circling, looking for King Salmon. We arrived in Sitka Harbor at 1305. Spirit is on an end tie in Thomson Harbor, with room for Teri’s Mink ahead of the bow.
We have now covered nearly 1200 nautical miles since leaving Anacortes.
June 5, 2018
Today is the first day of the Sitka Summer Music Festival and we have tickets to both the 50th anniversary concert as well as the celebration of the opening of Stevenson Hall after an extensive remodel.
There were neither car rentals available, nor taxis, so Miriam was unable to attend the concert. Watching dozens of Bald Eagles soaring outside the windows against the backdrop of snow covered mountains behind the performers during the concert reinforced the notion that Sitka is an unique venue for classical music.
June 6, 2021
At 0457 we departed the harbor for a day of fishing near Biorka Island, which turned into only fishing, not catching. We spent 9 hours underway and caught only one small halibut which became dinner. We also released one small King Salmon. We saw very few salmon being caught.
Dinner was delicious fresh halibut skewers prepared Caprese style by Teri from the halibut caught today. After the long day everyone retired early to prepare for another day of fishing tomorrow.
After last year’s strange, hurried and very wet Alaska cruising season we hoped to return to some normalcy in this year’s season. We started off with our “traditional” half loop around Behm Canal. Ketchikan is on Revillagigedo Island which is surrounded on three sides by Behm Canal and Tongass Narrows/Revillagigedo Channel on its fourth. We dislike retracing our entrance route into Ketchikan along Revillagigedo Channel so instead we continue out Tongass Narrows and work our way north along the west leg of Behm Canal, around the top of Revillagigedo Island and partway down the east leg of Behm Canal. It is usually less crowded and it visits many sites that have yielded crabs or prawns for us in the past.
Only a short distance (~12 NM) from Ketchikan, we encountered an unusual sight. The US Navy has an acoustic test station at the south end of the west channel of Behm Canal. In all our past trips, one or two large barges sit lonely in the middle of the channel. This year there was a buzz of activity, including a Coast Guard Cutter patrolling the perimeter. The hub of the activity was a Trident nuclear submarine sitting on the surface between the two barges. We have no idea of the kind of testing being done (and wouldn’t tell you if we did). When we returned by the area a few days later, all was quiet again.
While we saw a half dozen cruising boats when we started up Behm Canal, they were all exiting and we saw only a few other boats along the way. We did manage to get on the USFS buoy in Walker Cove in Misty Fiords National Monument. We usually see bears on the beach foraging on the sedge grass but they weren’t there this year. When we went to shore, we understood why. The sedge grass had only just sprouted, was sparse and only a inch or two high. Hardly enough to feed a hungry sow and one or two cubs.
We attribute the grass’s stunted condition to the cold and wet weather. Since we’ve been in SEAK, we’ve had above normal rain and below normal temperatures. We’ve gone several days in which the high temperature we see on our outside thermometer never cracks 50°. Our furnace is getting a workout this season.
After our Behm Canal foray we headed up to Ernest Sound and spent a couple of nights at Santa Anna Inlet, prawning nearby. We then positioned in Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island for our transit of Wrangell Narrows. While there we met a couple of boaters from nearby Wrangell who knew our friends Jim & Rosy on Sea Venture who wintered over in Wrangell. An attraction of Roosevelt Harbor is the USFS dock and access to logging roads. We took Drake ashore in our kayaks for a well deserved walk (we were 8 days out from Ketchikan at this point).
Our arrival in Petersburg was at high slack and the notorious currents were quiet so the docking was uneventful. We secured a slip just down from our friends, John & Kathleen on our sister ship, Laysan. They wintered their boat in Petersburg but wisely return to their home in Hawaii for the winter.
After a couple of days in Petersburg and with outstanding weather (but a poor forecast for the next day), we made the long day’s journey to Takatz Bay on Baranof Island. We sat out the poor weather in Takatz and spent part of the day watching a helicopter ferrying loads from a frontloading craft to some nearby location. After talking with a guide from a small (<200′) cruise ship (it was taking its guests on excursions in Takatz), we believe the activity was the stocking of a nearby lake with smolt. The fish were carried in the water tanks of tanker trucks which were driven onto the front loader. The front loader beached itself and pumped the water and fish into canvas bags in a frame structure. The helicopter would lower a short haul line down while hovering, the crew attached the short haul to the frame structure, the helicopter would fly off and dump its load and swap its empty load for a new load (they had two bag structures). This went on for 2 to 3 hours. The helicopter landed on the beach at the beginning and ending of the process and once in the middle (not sure if the helicopter refueled from a tank on the front loader). It was all very interesting.
After our two nights in Takatz we continued to Appleton Cove and then to Baby Bear Bay. In Baby Bear we took Drake to shore on an island (at least at high tide) since it was several days after leaving Petersburg. After two nights in Baby Bear (again sitting out some rainy, blustery weather), we transited through Sergius Narrows and make our way to Kalinin Bay for the night. An early start had us fishing the morning bite along the north shore of Kruzof Island outside Kalinin. No luck.
Our final night before Sitka, was in the outer cove of DeGroff Bay on Krestof Island. We find that anchorage to be well protected and convenient for an early arrival in Sitka.
We’re planning three nights in Sitka, tending to chores and attending a concert associated with the Sitka Music Festival taking place this year after last year’s hiatus. After that, we’ll go cruising for a week or so and return to Sitka for another concert later in the month.
Photo courtesy Pierce and Janet Guyer We completed the final leg of our passage from Horta to Charleston in the same conditions as we started, with light winds, calm seas and great speed. In the middle, we had two weather systems to contend with, including the first named storm of the year, tropical storm Ana….
After eight days of work getting the boat ready for another season of cruising, we are finally pushing away from the dock for the first cruise of the season. It feels good to be back out on the water. As we head out Fredrick Sound, we soon spot the familiar site of the sea lions […]
Spirit Log May 23-31
May 23, 2021
After joining in for the on-line church service from BelPres we spent the rest of the day re-provisioning and getting some additional spare LED running light bulbs, which seem to be failing after 10+ years in service. We had a nice visit with the Doug and Karen Dance from the Selene 53 “Peregrine”, which arrived in Ketchikan from Bremerton yesterday.
With the larger number of pleasure boats transiting to Alaska this year, the harbors are filling and Peregrine was tied up to the drive-down float, normally not allowed, but the harbormaster found a place for everyone. We were glad we had a reserved slip at Ketchikan Moorage despite the extra cost.
May 24, 2021
Spirit departed Ketchikan at 0950 under mostly sunny skies and a 10-15 knot NW wind. Proceeding up Tongass Narrows, we crossed the entrance of the Behm Canal and into Clarence Strait. Heading up Clarence Strait we passed the small community of Meyers Chuck and turned into Ernest Sound. By 1715 we were anchored in Santa Anna Inlet, one of our favorite anchorages. There were already two other boats anchored at the head of the inlet, but there is room for dozens.
By 1830 we had set 4 prawn pots and then settled down for a dinner of Chicken Marsala, steamed asparagus and homemade bread (courtesy of Teri).
May 25, 2021
The morning check of the prawn pots yielded a combined total of 120 prawns, 1 ½ limits for the day, giving us a chance to harvest more in the evening. By noon the predicted rain had started along with some brink winds from the SE.
We had been having some erratic stabilizer performance, so while at anchor we recalibrated the gyro and gain, using directions sent by email from Jason at Wesmar. Testing at anchor, the problem appears to be solved.
The remainder of the day the weather oscillated between partly sunny and hailstorms, rather interesting.
The afternoon pull of the pots yielded only another 80 prawns for a total of 200 today. Two other Selene’s came into the bay, “Peregrine” and “Rendezvous”. We shared happy hour with the Montgomery’s from Rendezvous, including freshly cooked spot prawns from the afternoon pull.
May 26, 2021
Patrick and Harry checked the prawn pots beginning at 0730 and were rewarded with moderate amounts of spot prawns, until the last pull, which contained a large (7 foot across octopus) and a starfish. The prawns in that pot were largely just empty shells. After some tugging and pulling, we managed to extricate the octopus and consign it to Davey Jones Locker rather than eat it, as we had done in the past. In any event we had no container on the tender in which we could have successfully trapped the cunning creature.
By 0900 we had pulled the anchor from a good set in Santa Anna Inlet and headed up Seward Passage, stopping to look at a Humpback Whale feeding along the shore, and then into Zimovia Pass and on to Wrangell. Stabilizer testing showed we had solved the problem by recalibrating the console.
Along the way Teri baked another loaf of bread in the makeshift dutch oven (a oven safe stockpot), this time flavored with garlic and herbs. We have now baked four loaves of bread on board Spirit since we got the recipe in Bullhead Cove from Rendezvous.
Spirit was moored safely to the transient float in Heritage Harbor by 1410 under now sunny skies and warm temperatures. After mooring, a quick trip to the market and hardware stores replenished our supplies. That evening we gathered with Montgomery’s from Rendezvous for a good meal at the Stikine Inn, open Wednesday through Sunday this time of year for dinner from 4-8 PM. We understand they go on to the summer schedule this coming weekend. We highly recommend either the pork chop with a bourbon glaze (huge) or the ½ pound Black and Blue Waygu burger.
Spirit has now covered 885 NM since leaving Anacortes.
May 27, 2021
Successfully transiting Wrangell Narrows to our next destination allowed us to delay our departure from Heritage Harbor, Wrangell until 1100. Our strategy is usually to time the trip so we arrive at Green Point at high slack tide, riding the last of the flood north and then the beginning of the ebb tide, passing by Petersburg and then out into Frederick Sound, again taking advantage of the ebb tide.
We entered Wrangell Narrows at Point Alexandra at 1400 and exited at the north entrance buoy at 1605. At times we were seeing speeds of 11 knots over the bottom with the favorable currents. We then headed to Thomas Bay, crossing the entrance bar (the terminal moraine from the Patterson and Baird glaciers) at 1700 and anchoring in Ruth Island Cove at 1840, just off of Patterson Creek. Rendezvous rafted alongside and we enjoyed potluck appetizers and some spot prawn salad for dinner.
We covered nearly 60 NM today.
May 28, 2021
The weather deteriorated overnight, and we woke to rain and low clouds, but little wind. The rain stopped as we released Rendezvous from our raft-up and pulled the anchor at 0800 and followed Rendezvous back out of Thomas Bay, setting course for Pybus Bay and Cannery Cove. Frederick Sound had SE winds up to 15 knots and 2-3 foot following seas, making for an easy passage.
We were distressed to see a sizable group of Sea Otters in a kelp patch off the tip of San Juan (the Alaska version) Island at the entrance to Pybus Bay. This does not bode well for crabbing and prawning in the future. Spirit anchored in Cannery Cove at 1445 after a second attempt to obtain a good set in the soft mud bottom as the wind gusted to 21 knots. After setting the anchor, crab traps were placed and we spent the balance of the afternoon and evening relaxing on Spirit as we swung around the anchor in wind and rain. Rendezvous anchored several hundred yards away.
We called the Pybus Point Lodge (on VHF 72) about dinner, but on their chaotic first days of operation they could not accommodate us, so perhaps the next time we stop we can enjoy what is reputed to be excellent food. Instead Teri prepared some delicious tuna cakes from a Martha Stewart recipe, served over a green salad accompanied by steamed asparagus.
Spirit has now covered 997 NM since leaving Anacortes.
May 29, 2021
The crab pots were checked in the morning in rain. There were lots of crab, but many were softshell, nonetheless, we managed to find six legal hardshell crab. We also observed sea otters around our crab pots, which does not bode well for the future for crabbing. By 0815 we were underway for our next destination, Red Bluff Bay on Baranof Island. Contrary to the weather reports, there was little wind, but a confused 4-5 foot swell coming both from Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait. By the time we passed Yasha Island the swell was only on the port bow from Chatham Strait.
We entered Red Bluff Bay not knowing how many vessels would be at the anchorage at the head of the bay and were pleasantly surprised to find it empty, so we had our choice of spots. There were two brown bears on the beach when we arrived. We could also see the river delta has continued to encroach on the anchorage.
Crab pots were set and then we made a run out to the prawning location to set the prawn pots, using both our inflatable and Teri’s Mink. The rain continued all night.
The 41 NM run now puts us over the 1000 NM mark for this trip.
May 30, 2021
The crab pots yielded only one legal crab overnight and the morning pull of the prawn pots was disappointing, very few and small prawns. We have seen a lot of pleasure traffic in Red Bluff Bay on AIS and since most people know where to prawn, we think it has been depleted early in the season.
To avoid fighting the ebb current in Chatham Strait, we delayed our departure until 1035 and headed north to our next destination, Takatz Bay, also on Baranof Island. The anchor was set at 1355 after a short 26 NM run. Takatz Bay was also empty. The rain continued all day, sometimes hard.
Crab pots were placed, even though we have never found crabs in Takatz Bay. The water temperature was pretty low, a chilly 39 degrees.
May 31, 2021
The sound of rain, sometimes very heavy, continued all night. Harry and Teri pulled the pots and caught only massive amounts of slimy grass completely covering both the traps and the lines. Hopefully our next destination will be more productive. We have noticed so many pleasure craft targets on AIS in the popular anchorages that we will probably modify our routing to avoid the crowds.
We will have burgers and potato salad for Memorial Day when we arrive at our next anchorage, another relatively short run. We will have not cell phone service between that anchorage and our planned arrival in Sitka on June 4.